Thursday, June 09, 2011


Jim Wallis is the drummer in London's My Sad Captains, ace purveyors of bitter-sweet indie-pop (their second album due at some point this calendar year). Wallis also releases music in his own right as Looking Glass. Now from a drummer's musical side-project you'd expect thump and clatter right? Well Looking Glass is a much more muted affair. Over two EPS – 2009’s "Fish Fowl Flood" and 2010’s "The First Real Target" – Wallis has made twelve tracks of frail, wistful Americana built on restraint and gossamer-light guitar or banjo - with minimal drum-beats or noise.

For the third Looking Glass release, Wallis has teamed up with Providence, Rhode Island resident Vio/Miré (aka Brendan Glasson) to release a split single with two tracks a piece. Vio/Miré is a new name to me but proves a worthy and apt sparring partner to Looking Glass (although I doubt neither blows nor harsh words were traded in this project).

The Looking Glass tracks are a fine continuation of the sound of earlier releases but take a step closer towards exquisite chamber-folk: echoing piano, yearning cello and metronomic click on ‘Infinite Wisdom’ and more spritely banjo jauntiness on ‘If You See Something Say Something’. Both are imbued with a familiar (to me) feeling of failed ideas and dreams (“I planned another year / and saw it disappear”).

The first Vio/Miré first track “Ivory Gull” is a more electronically textured piece, an ode to “hemlock trees...[and] mighty redwoods” that reminds me of a pared back Papercuts with a bit of Conor Oberst vocal wobble thrown (gently) in. ‘Much That Could Be Found’ is a strummed, acoustic song of loss and despondency which continues with the mighty redwoods references and sounds even more like Conor Oberst but here suffering a quiet crisis in confidence.

The two artists and their delicate despair sit together remarkably well. But the real success of this split single is in making me hungry to hear more from both artists. A hushed triumph, limited to 250 7” vinyl copies worldwide or available digitally courtesy of Tip Top Recordings.

Looking Glass - Infinite Wisdom by Tip Top Recordings

Vio/Miré - Ivory Gull by Tip Top Recordings

Looking Glass / Vio/Miré Split Single [BUY]

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